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Denver is nation's seventh-greenest city

For the fourth consecutive year, Denver has ranked among the top 10 U.S. cities for the percentage of its office space qualified as green certified, according to a recent survey by energy consultants CBRE and Maastricht University.

With a modest year-over-year improvement, 13.3 percent of Denver office buildings are certified green, representing 41.9 percent of overall office square footage, according to the annual Green Building Adoption Index. That’s compared with 11.8 percent and 40.2 percent, respectively, last year.

Chicago claimed the top spot in 2017, while San Francisco slipped to second and Atlanta, Houston and Minneapolis rounded out the top five markets.

“Green” office buildings in the United States are defined as those that hold either an EPA Energy Star label, U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification or both.

“Denver companies are savvy, and they realize that operating out of an energy-efficient space can not only save money and benefit the environment but also be a point of differentiation when it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent,” says Sam DePizzol, executive vice president with CBRE Advisory & Transaction Services in Denver. “With one of the tightest labor markets in the country, we are seeing more and more Colorado companies pay attention to the role their real estate places in creating a competitive advantage.”
 

Third annual Shed Summit to focus on “Water Is Your Business” takes place on June 29

As one of the nation’s major suppliers of water, Colorado’s watershed is critical to the country's infrastructure, and many are working to balance the needs of the state's residents. That’s where the third annual Shed Summit comes in.

The one day event, taking place at the Denver Botanic Gardens’ York Street location on June 29, will focus on the theme of “Water Is Your Business” and will cover a range of issues regarding the management of Colorado’s water, including the evolution of conservation and climate change under the Trump Administration, the importance of watershed health to recreation, and the role of agriculture in Colorado’s future.

This year the event is expected to bring more than 250 water utility executives, business leaders, conservation experts and others. With the 2017 theme, organizers, which include Denver Water, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Center for ReSource Conservation and more, are seeking to broaden the conversation about watershed management. “The goal is to bring local influence to global issues,” organizers say. They hope to introduce innovative ideas, and break down silos around water management.

The $50 event begins at 9 a.m. and runs through 4 p.m., followed by a happy hour at 6 p.m. Tivoli Brewery will provide beer.

Agility Recovery adds offices nationwide with new ReadyComplete suite

Agility Recovery, the Denver-based disaster recovery company that helps companies recover from hurricanes, floods, fires, blizzards and other challenging situations, is opening more than 3,200 locations across the country and internationally as part of its new ReadyComplete suite of services. The company provides its customer businesses with power, communications, computers and office space.

"Agility is providing access to thousands of office locations across the US and Canada, as well as overseas," explains Scott Teel, Agility Recovery marketing VP. "They are not Agility-owned office locations but are instead powered by the extensive portfolio of Regus-managed facilities."
 

The expansion is being funded by its investor, LLR Partners, Teel says. As the company expands it will add more positions both in Colorado and across the country. "We expect a company-wide head count increase of more than 10 percent for 2017 and continued growth over each of the next three years," Teel says. 

Agility relocated its headquarters from Charlotte, NC, to Denver in Oct. 2016, creating more than 40 jobs. "In 2016 we nearly tripled the number of employees on the Colorado team," Teel explains. "Some of these were transfers from the Charlotte office, but many were new hires. In January, we grew our Denver staff by 10 percent."

Teel says the company also expects to add more positions here. "We expect to add about 10 percent to our Denver head count over the course of 2017. Though we are always seeking to increase productivity and scalability through improved process and technology, we are still predicting even greater employee head count growth in Denver in 2018-19."

The growth comes as the market for recovery services is growing. It's currently valued at $40 billion and growing by 10 percent annually, according to TechTarget figures.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


SRI Conference comes to Denver

Sustainable and responsible investments will be at the forefront of the 27th annual SRI Conference, which has moved from Colorado Springs to Denver. The conference, being held at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center from Nov. 9-11, and will be headlined by former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter and Denver Chief Sustainability Officer Jerry Tinianow. 

First Affirmative Financial Network, which organizes the conference, calls it the largest annual meeting of responsible investment leaders in the U.S. The 2016 event will bring more than 650 investment professionals to Denver to discuss sustainable urban development, improve returns for philanthropic investors, clean energy policy and leveraging renewable investment opportunities.

"One of our goals this year in moving The SRI Conference from The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs to Denver was to showcase some of the leading sustainability and impact investing experts who live right in our own backyard," says Steve Schueth, president of First Affirmative Financial Network. "This year's agenda reflects a greater focus on local people and organizations that are demonstrating a more responsible approach to business and investing -- one that is geared toward shifting the paradigm and creating a truly sustainable future."

As such, roughly 30 percent of the conference sessions will feature speakers from Denver and Boulder. Tinianow, Denver's first chief sustainability officer, will discuss how his office is working to implement Mayor Michael Hancock's "Scale, and Everybody Plays" agenda. Likewise, Ritter will join former National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) Director Dan Arvizu to discuss clean energy policy in the U.S. and the opportunities it represents in terms of jobs.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Everyday Colorado wants your opinion on health and the environment

The Colorado School of Public Health is seeking comments from Coloradans about the environment, public health and community development. To do so, the school and its graduate students have partnered with the Tri-County Health Department and public health professionals across the state to launch Everyday Colorado, a new website to gauge public opinion on the issues. Organizers are using #EverydayCO to promote the site and survey tool.

"The Everyday Colorado interactive online tool asks participants to identifying values, rank concerns and offers the opportunity to learn more about emerging issues that may affect the health and well-being of Colorado communities," explains CSU Professor Jennifer Peel, co-director of the project.

The project aims to investigate current and emerging environmental health issues across Colorado, organizers say. As such they're encouraging people to take the survey and share the site with others across the state.

"The success of this project relies on people sharing their stories with us to inform how we do business. We want to know about the everyday concerns and priorities of people in the diverse communities of Colorado, from Denver to Silverton to Sterling and everywhere in between," adds Tom Butts, deputy director of the Tri-County Health Department and project co-director.

Professor Jill Litt, who teaches this class at Colorado School of Public Health and is a co-director on the project, says, "The student involvement, through community engagement and developing content about environmental policies and action steps, is a critical component of this community-based learning project."

Organizers will collect information in the coming weeks. They plan to publish a comprehensive report based on the results later in 2016, "highlighting local and professional perspectives about Coloradans' values and necessary action steps to prepare the state for emerging challenges."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


The Greenway Foundation to test MSU Denver students' trash removal machines in Cherry Creek

On April 30, five unique devices will be placed in Cherry Creek at Confluence Park as part of the Clean River Design Challenge. The devices were designed by Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) students for trash removal and will be tested as part of the Greenway Foundation's annual spring cleanup event.

Students developed and designed the devices over the past eight months. Originally 10 teams demonstrated their machines to a panel of judges from The Greenway Foundation, The Water Connection, the City and County of Denver, MSU Denver's One World One Water (OWOW) Center, the Littleton/Englewood Wastewater Treatment Plant and Rose Community Foundation.

Then judges selected the final devices for the Clean River Design Challenge. They're intended to raise awareness of and strive towards the development of solutions to trash pollution in the South Platte River and its tributaries. Five teams were awarded $1,000 to create a working model of their design to be tested on the Cherry Creek. Their machines will be used in conjunction with the CH2M Spring RiverSweep presented by The Nature Conservancy, MillerCoors and Noble Energy as part of Comcast Cares Day. 

Placing the machines in the creek will allow their effectiveness to be observed, according to the foundation. "This competition will both raise awareness of, and strive towards the development of solutions to this source of pollution in the South Platte River and its tributaries," officials explained in a statement.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Denver to host Solar Decathlon in 2017

Denver and the Department of Energy officials have announced that the city will host the international Solar Decathlon competition in 2017. The event will award a total of $2 million to the teams that compete in its 10 challenges to make a livable, affordable, compact solar-powered home -- essentially what each team believes will be the home of tomorrow.

Denver becomes the third U.S. city to host the biennial event, which began in Washington, D.C., and has since taken place in Irvine, California. It brings roughly 60,000 visitors on average. "As one of the top 10 metro areas for solar installations and sunny days, Denver is a great choice to host the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon,"says DOE Under Secretary Franklin Orr.

The decathlon challenges 16 teams of college students from the U.S. and around the world to design and build energy efficient, solar-powered homes that they have to transport from their location to the event location at Denver's Pena Station development. In 2017 for the first time ever, teams will receive $100,000 to defray construction and transportation costs and the teams that do the best in the gauntlet of events will receive extra awards. The team that takes first place will receive $300,000, second place gets $225,000 and third place takes $150,000.

"Denver is proud to work with the U.S. Department of Energy to bring this fun and engaging academic competition to our city," says Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. "This opportunity not only highlights the Denver metro area's leadership in energy efficiency but allows us to spotlight our burgeoning solar energy industry."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


fishpond becomes B Corp

Denver's fishpond recently became a B Corporation. The company designs fly fishing, outdoor adventure packs, vests, gear bags, luggage and other accessories. Among other innovations, the company has created Cyclepond, a fabric made from recycling commercial fishing nets.

As a B Corp, fishpond is required to meet certain social and environmental standards. This includes considering the impacts of the company's decisions on employees, suppliers, communities, consumers and the environment. While becoming a B Corp or Beneficial Corporation is a voluntary act for a for-profit company, it ensures that the company meets these standards by including the requirements in its bylaws.

"As a small fly fishing focused brand, it is very important to communicate to our employees, consumers and industry that our business is dedicated to making sustainable decisions affecting everyone involved," explains co-owner Ben Kurtz. "Joining Patagonia in the fly fishing industry as the only other manufacturer with this certification means a great deal to us and will undoubtedly mean more to our loyal consumers."

Among the factors cited in allowing fishpond to become a B Corp, the certifying organization noted Cyclepond, the company's advocacy in Washington, D.C., to protect water and sustainable fishing practices and its donations to non-profits through partnerships and product sales.

"Since fishpond's inception, we have strived to be leaders in sustainable practices and creating a workplace in which our employees can thrive," says John Le Coq, fishpond founder and lead designer. "Becoming a certified B Corp tells our industry and our consumers that they are aiding a company that deeply cares about the environment and social responsibility on a large scale."

In becoming a B Corp it joins more than 50 other companies in Colorado that have become B Corps. The certification, according to the company, will also allow it access to a like-minded community of business owners to continually drive positive progress.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


PaintCare launches statewide paint recycling program

Too many people have leftover paint after repainting their home or apartment. This stuff usually sits around until it can't be used anymore or ends up in the dump -- which is not good since paints can leach toxic materials into the ground. But last year Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation into law requiring paint recycling. Now, through the free paint recycling program, PaintCare, Coloradans are able to recycle the paint hiding behind the stairs, in the basement or in the garage -- for free!

PaintCare was set up by paint manufacturers as a way to mitigate paint waste. The organization says that more than half of the materials handled by household hazardous waste facilities is paint.


There are already nearly 50 paint drop-off locations in the Denver area, and the organization already has more than 100 locations throughout Colorado. Many of these are at hardware and paint stores

"We are thrilled to see the excitement and energy from Colorado retailers to become paint drop-off sites," says Paul Fresina, PaintCare's director of communications. "Before the program was implemented, many people didn't have any easy way to get rid of their unwanted paint, but now Coloradans have the option to simply drop off paint at a PaintCare retail partner near them for recycling."

The legislation signed by Hickenlooper doesn't require a fee for recycling. However, Coloradans are already paying to recycle paint when they purchase it. That's because the legislation imposed a small fee on the purchase of paint. For instance, a five-gallon bucket of paint carries a $1.60 fee to handle recycling.

Once the paint is collected PaintCare processes it into a number of things. Some is remixed into recycled-content paint, used as fuel or made into other products or. In some case, when paint is unrecyclable, PaintCare dries it out and disposes of it. Visit www.paintcare.org to learn more.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


thoughtbot launches Cultivate Colorado competition to create an app for good

Denver's branch of thoughtbot launched its Cultivate Colorado challenge this week. The challenge will help a Colorado organization design, build and launch an app that's aimed at helping solve a social or environmental issue. The IT firm estimates that the services for designing and developing the app for the winner will have a value of up to $150,000.

"Our goal is to collaborate with a Colorado-based organization and utilize human-centered design practices to solve a difficult problem facing the community or world," says Andrew Cohen, the designer who spearheaded the challenge.

The competition is open to a variety of organizations, explains Rachel Cope, a thoughtbot product designer, that helped develop the initiative. "We didn't want to put a super-strict parameter on that," she says. As such, the initiative is open to nonprofits, companies with a social mission and B Corps.

"It's the first time we've launched this competition," Cope says. "A group of us here in the office were thinking about how we could do something for the community and thought this would be a good opportunity. A lot of us had worked at nonprofits in the past and we wanted to do something to benefit our state."

The competition is open though March 15 and organizations can register their ideas via a simple sign-up sheet here. The contest organizers at thoughtbot will evaluate each proposal, narrow it to three, reach out to the finalists and make their choice from there, Cope explains.

While this is the first time thoughtbot has launched the competition, Cope says the Boston-based company could replicate Cultivate Colorado at its other locations, which include New York, San Francisco and Stockholm.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Backyard farmers get support from Denver's new cottage foods code

Denver's residents can now sell produce and goods thanks to the city's recently passed cottage foods code.

"This change will work to increase healthy food options for families and add new opportunities for supplemental earnings that can make a real difference in the economic and physical health of lower income residents," says Mayor Michael Hancock. "I want to recognize the Denver Sustainable Food Policy Council for recommending this policy change and I want to thank Councilmembers Robin Kniech, Susan Shepherd and Albus Brooks for leading the passage of this ordinance."

Under the text amendment, which went into effect July 18, residents in Denver can obtain a permit to sell their homegrown fruits, vegetables and herbs. They can also sell their chicken or duck eggs and unrefrigerated cottage foods like spices, teas, honey, jams, and certain baked goods. All products that they can sell are defined in the Colorado Cottage Food Act.

"The permit costs $20 and does not have to be renewed annually," says Andrea Burns of the Denver Department of Community Planning and Development. "It goes with the property so would only need to be replaced if the property changes ownership."

Under the new provision, residents will have to obtain a "home occupation" zoning permit, the city says. If a resident plans to sell cottage foods, they also have to complete a food safety course.   

"Denver has always been known as a city that appreciates farm-to-table and using fresh produce and locally sourced foods, but this new law creates a whole new level of urban farming that will allow the city to become one big farmer's market," says Visit Denver CEO Richard Scharf.

Scharf adds that many restaurants in and around Denver are already growing their own foods, like the Colorado Convention Center. The Blue Bear Farm is now growing 5,000 pounds of fresh fruits, vegetables and spices used in its kitchens.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Gociety creates social network for outdoor activities

Gociety, which recently launched out of Denver, has a simple motto: "Meet People. Get Outside. Be Awesome."

"What we do is we create a platform for people to link up have access to resources with the overall goal of everyone just getting outside as much as they can," explains Jason Antin, Gociety's Director of Partnerships.

The website allows people to register for free and create a profile on the site, explaining what activities they're interested in as well as their skill level. Members can then create an event using dropdown menus to select the sport and required skill level.

Event creators or leaders can either ask other people to participate based on their profiles and skill level or leave the event open to everyone in the community. It's not meant to make an event exclusive -- when an event requires specialized skills like knowledge of avalanche safety for backcountry skiing, it can put everyones' lives at greater risk to have beginners along.

"We want to provide options to them to do anything from a causal two-mile run around Wash Park to a rim-to-rim-to-rim trip to the Grand Canyon -- from very beginner to anything you can wrap your head around," Antin says.

Gociety's site had its hard launch in January 2014. By the end of April it already had a quickly growing user base, according to Antin.

"2014 is a big year of building community," he says, noting that mobile apps are forthcoming but not yet available. The plan is to roll out the next phase in 2015 and "continue to build up this platform to be your outdoor portfolio," he explains.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Cameras rolling for One Day in Denver on April 26

What do you want to say about Denver? What do you want people to know about Denver and what’s great or not so great here? That’s the focus of One Day in Denver, the local version of One Day on Earth's latest project, encouraging people to go out and film their cities and focus on the issues they think are important.

The project, which is taking place in 11 U.S. cities from New York to Los Angeles, will ultimately result in a three-part television series that will air on CPT 12 PBS locally, explains Kristin Nolan, the local producer for project. Nolan also produces the Starz Denver Film Festival and other projects in the city.

Nolan anticipates that roughly 200 films will be submitted locally. Some of them will be raw footage while others will be edited. Ultimately, they’ll become part of the larger project. "They'll be culled through and pieces to help highlight storylines will be pulled out and really speak to the overarching themes behind the event, which are: Where are we now? What do we appreciate? Why do we live in cities? What are some of the issues that we face living in cities? What are some resolutions to those issues that we’re looking at? All of those items will be highlighted in that series across the three parts."

"All of the participants, filmmakers, organizations, individuals are creating pages within our website and it's very much a social website, an interactive geotagged website where everyone can say:, 'Hey, here's who I am, here's what I do. Here's how you can engage with my work and here's what I’m bringing to the table for One Day in Denver." The site also features an interactive map with links to the other participating cities.



It's been a changing experience for Nolan. "I've sensed Denver in a way that I never have before and learned so very much about organizations and the passions and individuals," she says. "Other people can have that experience as they move through the map."

Videos must be filmed on April 26 and submitted by May 26. "If someone wants to do an edited piece I’d recommend one to four minutes," Nolan says. "Something dynamic that's digestible." Those uploading raw footage can upload more than one piece, but each is limited to 500 megabytes.

You can register to participate in the project here. Nolan is hosting an event April 17 at SPACE Gallery at 400 Santa Fe Dr. from 5:30-7:30 p.m. to discuss the project and answer questions.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Buy your car's fuel up front with Autowatts

Autowatts, a startup with roots in Denver, will soon start offering electric vehicle (EV) buyers a chance to purchase all the energy their vehicle will ever need when they buy their vehicle by financing a solar rooftop for EV owners.

"The premise of what Autowatts is doing is paring the purchase of a fuel supply with an electric vehicle," says Founder Alex Tiller, also CEO of solar installer Sunetric, which was recently purchased by RGS Energy. "This has never been possible in history, really."

Tiller explains that previously the size of the EV market, the vehicle's battery technology and the cost of photovoltaics were all factors that made creating this type of product offering difficult, it not economically feasible, but that's changed. "We're at a point in time now where essentially a buyer can prepay all the transportation fuel in one fell swoop and they can actually finance it," Tiller says.

"If you use a renewable energy system to offset your transportation miles, you are competing with oil," Tiller explains. "We know that in markets where oil creates the electrons, oil gets its butt kicked by solar." In Hawaii, where Sunetric is headquartered, just such a situation has played out, because most of the island state's electricity currently comes from oil or diesel-fired generators, which is more expensive than solar power. "You can get as little as a four-year payback on a residential solar system in the Hawaii market," Tiller explains.

To put it another way; "Imagine if you're going to buy a new car. If the car salesman offered at that time, 'Hey, for an extra $10,000, would you like to pay for all the gasoline you're ever going to need for this car, and for your next five cars, and I can finance it and that monthly payment is less than you would be spending on gasoline.' Most would say, 'yes,'" Tiller contends.

The solar array may not directly feed the vehicle but with an EV it helps simplify owners' energy costs. "The electrons get commingled in the house. It's not like the power system goes straight into your car. Your home is a small load system and we put the solar on the house." When most homeowners with EVs are at work, the system will produce power they can net meter, or sell energy back to the grid. Then when the homeowner comes home, they can charge their vehicle at home.

Another option, which will likely occur in the future as battery costs continue to come down, is actually storing the solar energy in batteries at the home until the homeowner comes home to charge their EV up. As of 2014, however, battery technology is generally still too expensive to justify the expense, though Tiller sees that changing.

Autowatts completed its first beta in Hawaii where Sunetric is headquartered. "We're still a very early technology. We are in a beta mode right now," Tiller explains. While he was tight-lipped on the launch strategy, he says the company will roll out the new version in some markets before the end of 2014.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Auckland Outdoors sets out to become the Airbnb of camping gear

Want to go camping for a weekend but don't have the gear or don't know where to go? Check out the recently launched Auckland Outdoors. The company offers competitively priced rentals ($8 a day for backpack, sleeping bag and tent) but it’s also designed as a peer-to-peer rental site, kind of like the Airbnb or Couchsurfing version of the outdoors. It's likely the first company to offer such services for camping.

So if you're traveling to Denver -- or live in Denver -- you can check out what’s available to rent, not just from Auckland Outdoors, but also from others who have registered to offer their gear, be it a camp stove, disc golf set, snowshoes or gaiters from the company's site Outdoors.io. Already about 150 people -- mainly from Denver but also San Francisco and other cities -- have signed up to either offer their gear or to rent gear from the company and others on the site, says Founder Rob Auston.

"Ultimately our mission is to make it easier for people to have outdoor experiences," Auston explains. "Who we’re really targeting is kind of that person that moved out here for the lifestyle…and they quickly find out that if I go spend $2,000 on a road bike I'm now limited to the other opportunities I can do because I can't afford to buy the gear."

He adds, "Sometimes not just about the cost, it's about the space. Living downtown in a 500-square-foot space. I just don’t have the space for all my gear."

The core of the site is now focused around the gear. But Auston observes that there are other important components to the outdoor experience. "There’s the community piece: 'Who can I do this with?' And the discovery piece, you know: 'Where can I go camping?' But right now our focus is just on the foundational piece, let's get that right and let's try and unlock all this gear that sits idle in people's closets most of the year,” he says. "We're starting to build some features around community and discovery aspects."

Auckland Outdoors, named after Auston’s experience in New Zealand, also has a bunch of the basic gear available for rental. "Eddie Bauer gave us $10,000 in camping gear. So we've got tents, sleeping bags, backpacks all ready for people to rent," he says. At this point all of that gear is still virgin -- after all, camping season in Colorado doesn't really get underway until May.

Whether you're a renter or a gear junky who wants to rent out gear when you’re not using it, you can register at the site for free. If you've got gear to rent, Auston says the process is pretty easy. "You can take a picture of whatever the gear is and put in the price you want and add a description," he explains. The gear owner can accept or reject requests and can set up a meeting place. Transactions are handled through Auckland Outdoors, which takes a 15 percent transaction fee.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.
27 Environment Articles | Page: | Show All
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